Findlay Set to Host NCAA D2 Challenge This Weekend
FINDLAY, Ohio – Speed, Strength, Stamina, Spring – all will be on display this weekend as The University of Findlay hosts the NCAA II Team Challenge indoor track & field competition this Friday and Saturday. Twenty-three NCAA II collegiate institutions will invade the Malcolm Athletic Center, including nine nationally ranked teams. The three top-ranked women’s team on the USTFCCCA National Team Rankings – Lincoln (Mo.), Grand Valley State, and Ashland – should battle for the team title. On the men’s side, Lincoln comes in as the sixth-ranked team followed by Ashland (#8), Tiffin (#13), Hillsdale (#14), Findlay (#16), and Saginaw Valley State (#19).
Speed. And lots of it. That’s what Lincoln will bring. Janika Martell (#2 nationally-ranked in NCAA II in the 60m & 200m) and Olympian Semoy Hackett (#1 nationally-ranked in the 200m and #4 in the 60m), will lead the Tiger contingent which has the top seven entries in the 60m dash and the top four in each the 200m and 400m. Hillsdale All-American Jasmine Williams will try to break-up the Lincoln sprint dominance with a 400m/200m double.
The men’s sprint fields are more wide open with eight athletes entered at 6.90 or better in the 60m. Lincoln’s Bruce Kimour has turned in the fastest time of the year at 6.75 with Kentucky State’s Jarmaree Gordan on his heels at 6.78. They will also do battle in the 200m but will face a challenge from GLIAC foes Joe Horn (Ashland) and Jared Krout (Hillsdale) in one of the deepest events of the day. Findlay’s Curtis Smithey and Lincoln’s Steve Banton are ranked #4 and #5 in the country at 400m and are the top seeds at the long sprint along with three others who have broken the 49-second barrier this season.
The women’s 60-meter hurdle race promises to be one of the best of the day with GLIAC rivals Raven Clay (Findlay) and Candice Wheat (Grand Valley) facing each other for the first time this season. Wheat has run 8.63 this season is currently ranked fourth on the NCAA II list. Clay, who represented the USA in the Pan-American Championships last summer, is currently ranked fifth at 8.66. Tiffin’s Ramone Brant (#9 in NCAA II) leads the men’s entrants and should be challenged by Justin Hoffman of Cedarville and Carsten Krohn of Ashland.
Strength. And lots of it. That’s what will be seen in the men’s shot put and weight throw. The top nine entrants in the shot put are either automatically or provisionally qualified as are eight in the weight throw. Findlay’s Derrick Vicars and Scott Barnas of Lewis are ranked #5 and #6 nationally in the shot put and are closely followed by Grand Valley’s Matt Armstrong (#8) and Ashland’s Blaine Maag (#9). Ashland looks to dominate in the men’s weight with the top four entrants in the meet, all ranked in the top ten in the nation including Mike Jeffery (#4), Ryan Loughney (#6), Maag (#9), and Richard Quick (#9). Findlay’s Nathaniel Kurtz looks to break up the Eagles – he is ranked #11 in NCAA II.
Not to be outdone, the women will also include some of the best throwers in the country. Ashland again leads the way with Tara Cooper, #1-ranked in the weight throw and Kelly Ash, #3-ranked in the shot put and #5-ranked in the weight. Grand Valley’s Lauren Buresh and Sam Lockhart, ranked #7 and #12 nationally, will challenge in the shot put. Making the final in the weight will be a challenge as the top ten entrants are either automatically or provisionally qualified for the D2 championships.
Stamina. And lots of it. That will be Friday night as the meet’s running events kick-off with the 5000m runs. The men’s field has three sub-15:00 entrants with Saginaw Valley’s Steve Genther being the favorite. The top entrant on the women’s side is Tyane Wilson of Malone. The highlight of the evening on the oval will be the distance medley relays in which several teams will be going for national qualifying performances. Grand Valley, Lewis, and Ferris State look to be the top teams in the women’s race and while Saginaw Valley, Grand Valley and Hillsdale should battle for the top spot on the men’s side.
On Saturday the women’s 800m will be one of the most closely contested events of the meet as the top five entrants are separated by less than a second. The Grand Valley twosome of Lauren Bergstrom and Chanelle Caldwell, Ashland’s Steph Tinney (#1-ranked in the NCAA II 400m), Findlay’s multi-time All-American Stephanie Charnigo, and Lewis’ Julie Jarrett are all looking for the win and the opportunity to move up on the national list. Saginaw Valley’s Tony Filipek and Charlie Richards (ranked #2 and #5 nationally) will try to go 1-2 in the men’s 800m. Lydia Wong (Cedarville) will battle Ferris State’s Christina Muir as both seek to break the 5-minute barrier. Ben Richards of Saginaw Valley leads a strong field in the men’s mile with Christopher Sinick (Malone) and Alex Ralston (Hillsdale) expected to battle in the field which includes five sub 4:20-entrants. Malone’s Aaron Melhorn, a USA qualifier in the steeplechase has 20 seconds on the field in the men’s 3000m while Muir will come out the mile and look for a win at 3000m.
Spring. And lots of it. Several athletes will look to soar to new heights in the jumps. The men’s long jump, which features seven entrants seeded over 22-feet, is led by Lincoln’s Gerald Basco. Basco owns the third best jump in D2 this season at 24’ 4 ½” while Grand Valley’s Ryan Rademacher is #12 at 23’ 6 ¾”. The men’s triple jump record may be in jeopardy as Kentucky State’s Troy Bland is entered just two inches shy of 47’11 mark set in 2007. Lincoln looks to score some big points in the women’s long and triple with Racquel Anderson who is nationally ranked in both events. Teammates Okine Codlyn and Kimberly Hodges are ranked in the triple while Lewis’s Ashley Butler looks to contend in the long jump.
Hillsdale’s Kayla Calwell (NCAA II ranked at #5) leads the women’s pole vault field at 12’6” with the next six entrants all clearing 11’3 or better this season. Lee Miller of Tiffin is ranked #8 in NCAA II at 15’11 while Greg Burns (Ferris State) and Jason Rook (Malone) have cleared 15’9 this year. Melissa Buche (St. Joseph’s, Ind) and Maegan Doyen (Grand Valley) may get into a strategic battle as both have cleared 5’7 ¾ and are ranked #3 in D2. In the men’s high jump, Tiffin’s Travis LeFlore (#7 ranked in NCAA II) is the top entrant at 6’10 ¼.
Speed. Strength. Stamina. Spring. And lots of it – all wrapped together in the multi’s. This is Dan Snyder (Tiffin), who will look to move up on the national list from his #8-ranked mark of 4883 points. Top entrants Sarah Sielisch (Lewis) and Kayla Ellks (Tiffin) will go for the NCAA provisional mark of 3300 points in the women’s pentathlon.
The meet will conclude as always, with the 4x400m relays. Lincoln, the top ranked-team in the country at 3:43.21 is expected to dominate the women’s race. It will be a different story in the men’s relay with Tiffin, Lincoln and Findlay all entered at 3:16+ and ranked #3, #4, and #5 in the nation.
34 events, 23 teams, 825 athletes.
Speed. Strength. Stamina. Spring.
This is the NCAA II Team Challenge.